The Trial of David Suzuki

by Joanna Katchutas
1 comment
photo of the lawyer at the "Trial of David Suzuki"

Photo by Jacqueline C. Waters for ROM.

As stated in a real government courthouse in Toronto on October 9, 2013

“With my carbon manifesto, I aim to stop these crimes:

1) Fossil Fuels as our Primary energy source are over.  Within a generation they must stay in the ground.  That means exploration and subsidies to the fossil fuel industry end now.

2) Save the Earth’s Largest Carbon Sinks: Canada’s Boreal forest and our oceans must be protected

3) Seventy per cent of our energy must be renewable energy within one generation

4) A carbon tax of $150 per tonne starts now

5) Canadian Climate scientists must be able to share their findings uncensored and unimpeded by political and corporate interests.

If my words are judged treasonous, then so be it.” – Dr David Suzuki


“We have failed our children for not protecting the biosphere” – Dr. David Suzuki

 The Trial of David Suzuki

Photos by Jacqueline C. Waters for ROM.

Dr. David Suzuki is a Canadian scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation who has won numerous awards and is famous for being an advocate for both humanity and nature. On Wednesday, November 6, 2013, I attended “The Trial of David Suzuki”, a mock trial at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) where Dr. David Suzuki stood accused of seditious libel (spreading lies against the government) in this dramatic performance for his Carbon Manifesto. The Carbon Manifesto, in which he claims that climate change is a matter too urgent to keep delaying significant action, states that we need to work as a nation to end the exploration and production of oil by 2035 and begin to change the way we live now as the future of our youth and their children depend on it.

 The Trial of David Suzuki - Fresh Print

Photos by Jacqueline C. Waters for ROM.

This sold out public event intrigued an audience of all ages. Created and produced by Laurie Brown (an advocate for the arts and a Canadian radio personality) “The Trial of David Suzuki” argued and gathered public opinion on whether or not Dr. Suzuki’s Manifesto is a plan that will save the world or destroy the Canadian economy as we know it.  The cast of the trial included actual lawyers (Linda Rothstein and Will McDowell), a judge, a jury, government of Canada Officials, artists and scientists, expert witnesses (business professor Michael Hlinka and Environmental Minister of Ontario Gord Miller) and of course, Dr. David Suzuki himself with Laurie Brown acting as the bailiff. At the end of the performance the audience was encouraged to share their opinions by voting on whether or not they felt that Dr. Suzuki was guilty or innocent of sedition.

Where do I stand in all this?  What is my opinion?  After spending two hours learning about the economic costs of Dr. Suzuki’s Manifesto versus the cons of continuing on the path we are on I find Dr Suzuki not guilty and support the manifesto.

 The Trial of David Suzuki - Fresh Print

Photos by Jacqueline C. Waters for ROM.

According to Canada’s “environmental watchdog” witness Gordon Miller, we’re burning away Earth’s resources at a rate five times greater than we can handle. At this rate, the increase of greenhouse gasses and CO2 emissions will reach a rate of 450 parts-per-million (ppm), which will result in raising the global average temperature by 2 degrees in 20-25 years. It is argued whether this might be a tolerable disturbance for the atmosphere, but most climatologists agree that anything greater than this will result in changes that are irreversible.

Being a part of the demographic that the repercussions of global warming affects, I worry and am terrified to leave our future in the hands of people more concerned with money than our future. As stated by the evening’s prosecution lawyer, Will McDowell, his argument was that  “[the] Evidence of urgency is speculative, based on unpredicted models and Canada will suffer economic devastation if the manifesto takes place. “  His closing argument was that “Dr. Suzuki’s Manifesto is nonsense and it is of government belief that this foolish idea will not help climate change and will not change the future of the world, Dr. Suzuki must bear the consequences”. To the contrary, Dr. Suzuki’s argument was that we’re being too short sighted about climate change and that climate change is an issue that is of utmost importance and needs to be addressed immediately.

Suzuki argues that Government officials are not thinking about the long term but only the short term and what would happen to the Canadian job market if his manifesto took place. Although his manifesto will bring a cost to our country, the sooner the strategies are put into place the more likely it is that we can save the country from economic catastrophe. Though it is suggested by government officials that many jobs would be lost, Dr. Suzuki states how imminent this situation is and how the opportunity for gradualism has passed and we are left with no choice but to begin to make sudden changes. “The longer we wait the more expensive it becomes. If we started in 2005 it would have required initial reductions of 3% per year to restore planetary energy balance and stabilize climate this century… If we start next year it’ll be 6%. If we wait ten years however, it’ll be 15% per year which would be extremely difficult and expensive and perhaps at that point, impossible”. The consensus of the trial was in favour of Dr. Suzuki by a landslide.

judges view at the "Trial of David Suzuki"

Photos by Jacqueline C. Waters for ROM.

I wonder where I’ll be “when I’m sixty four” (got the Beatles lyrics going through my head). The Carbon Manifesto affects us, the youth of our nation.  I suppose many others at the Trial agreed with me – I took the Manifesto Pledge and I think for the sake of our future (since we are the future), we all should.


You may also like